Kitchen Aid Social Media Debacle

Gah. There has been another big social media fail.

Deep breath.

Tonight this was tweeted out from @KitchenAidUSA:

Oops? I’d say. :| Looks like one of the social media minds behind Kitchen Aid USA’s twitter account was Sherri Bowers:

Fail Sherri, fail. Right now the internet is presuming that Sherri meant to send this tweet from her personal account and accidentally sent it from the brand account. Sure. Probably. Looks that way. {By the way, it’s pretty easy to make that mistake on any of the Twitter apps…}. Regardless — why on earth would you post a tweet like that anyways? What kind of person says something like that?

Deep breath.

Brands make social media mistakes all the time. Someone tweets the wrong thing. Someone posts something that offends the wrong person. Something gets blown out of proportion and chaos ensues. The list could go on and on.

Generally if the ‘mistake’ gains enough momentum, the brand will make a public apology (e.g. Kenneth Cole, Red Cross).

Time and time again the employee is fired (e.g. Chrysler).

Shortly after the mistake was made, Cynthia Soledad, Sr. Director of Kitchen Aid Brand, appeared on the Twittersphere to apologize. Pretty big deal, as she had to apologize to President Obama as well. She deleted the tweet, did some damage control and handed out her email address to the media. Then she disappeared.

Cynthia left some love notes on the brand’s Twitter account:

She notes that the mistake was “… sent in error by a member of our Twitter team who, needless to say, won’t be tweeting for us anymore…”. Oh really Cynthia, you’re going to fire Sherri? Surprise surprise!

Note: KitchenAidUSA has 25,000+ followers on Twitter and 118,000 fans on Facebook. The apology was posted on Facebook as well. Since then people across the globe have lit up the Facebook page with negative PR, no further response on either channel from Kitchen Aid.

Here’s what I think:

Firing someone within minutes of them making a mistake is a reactive decision. Maybe it needs to happen — but maybe it doesn’t.

If anyone has reviewed Sherri’s social media presence, it is crystal clear that she has NO IDEA what she’s doing on social media.

So why on earth is she a Community Manager for a global brand like Kitchen Aid?

Hiring mistake on the supervisor’s part and who is to blame? Cynthia.

Cynthia has been working in marketing for global brands for 10+ years. On her LinkedIn profile she indicates that ‘brand management’ is one of her strengths… Oh really?

If you review Kitchen Aid USA’s tweets… they’ve been shitty for the past week:

{Um, what?}

{Spelling.}

{Screwed up username. Spelling. Hi Cheryl. Thank you Cheryl. Gah.}

{I’m a total exclamation mark kind of girl… but REALLY?!?!!!!!!!!!!!}

… if you ask me, doesn’t look like the brand has been managed… very well. Who’s the bottom line on brand management again?

Here’s what I think… the Community Manager for Kitchen Aid USA’s brand is actually Rachel Barbarotta. Rachel is currently on vacation in Italy {thank you Instagram}. She left on September 24 and will be back on October 6.

Surely… Rachel booked time off and Cynthia {or the team} was left to figure out who would run the account during her vacation. Someone decides that social media ‘can’t be that hard’ and gave it to Sherri. Rachel gets on her flight, Sherri takes over — the channel starts to deteriorate.

Boom — a week later she makes a mistake. And a big one at that.

Should Sherri her job? In this case, sure. She’s clearly in the wrong job.

Should Cynthia lose her job? Yep. She shouldn’t be fired because of the employee’s mistake or how the crisis was handled. I think she should be cut solely because she doesn’t know how to hire for or manage the brand — and that seems to be a pretty critical part of being a Brand Manager.

Dear Kitchen Aid: 

Your employee just insulted the President of the United States. On your time.

Who’s to blame? The both of you.

Many people on social media are giving Cynthia a big high five and mega kudos for how she handled the mess. Cynthia did a few things right… She deleted the tweet pretty quick. She apologized. She told the community who she was — making the apology human. I don’t think she deserves a high five… what she did tonight was the bare minimum of what is expected by a brand in today’s digital market. No rah rah sis boom bah from me lady.

Tonight you finally did your job.

Note: To all the people saying that they will NEVER EVER buy a Kitchen Aid product again. Calm down. Obviously the comment wasn’t  brand approved or supported — it was a mistake. This is an employee and team issue, not a product issue. Deep breath.

A few things to remember {in no particular order}:

  1. People who run social media networks for your brand have — power. At the end of the day, they post/update/thought/comment. They are the voice of your brand and you need to understand the good / bad that could come with that hefty responsibility.
  2. Set your Community Manager’s up for success. Don’t just default social media to the lowest person on the totem pole or default the role to an intern. Really think through a candidate or employee’s strengths and determine if they will be able to rock out the role. Are they a people person? Do they love interaction and conversation? Are they professional and eloquent? Do they know how to laugh and have a good time? Do they have extensive experience or interest in brand management?
  3. Social media is just another communication channel — the major difference between it and traditional marketing is that it’s instant. Educate your employees on the do’s and don’t of your brand. What topics are off limits? What language is appropriate? How do you handle customer complaints? What is your escalation process when shit hits the fan?
  4. The Internet is expecting that brands are transparent, authentic and human. Own up to your mistakes, don’t hide behind them.
  5. An oops is an opportunity to educate. Set expectations with your team on appropriate behaviours. Set guidelines for social media use. Use case studies from other brands, so that you can learn from their mistakes.
  6. Hire people who fit your culture. Hire people that ooze your brand. Hire people that you can stand behind when they make a mistake.

I should probably stop ranting now…

Hell I’m not a social media expert. ;)

0 Comments

  1. Leo Tran (@LeoTran) October 4, 2012

    Perfect. :)

    Reply
  2. Melissa October 4, 2012

    I was just prepping this story for my lesson on social media in my management class tomorrow. You make great points! A disaster tweet is one thing, but setting your company social profile up to fail is another.

    Reply
  3. Derek Shanahan October 4, 2012

    Nice summary, Walker – saved me a lot of time:) And yeah, a quick survey of someone’s public profiles probably makes sense before staking a brand on that person. This Sherri woman has a sense of public messaging like King Kong had a sense of etiquette.

    Reply
    • Jillian Walker October 8, 2012

      Lovely to hear you’re in agreement D. :) Agreed on the King Kong bit.

      Reply
  4. Michelle October 4, 2012

    Great post, you’re bang-on.

    Reply
  5. Rammay October 10, 2012

    Did you read about StubHub’s social fail? http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/stubhubs-tweeter-was-obscenely-happy-leave-work-friday-144301

    I am currently working on the next stages of our corporate social strategy and shared your post with our team. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Jillian Walker October 29, 2012

      Hey Ahmed – Yeah I saw StubHub’s mess! Thank you for sharing the post. Appreciate it! :)

      Reply
  6. […] year was October 4th with 655 views. That’s the day I went rampage on Kitchen Aid. The post: Kitchen Aid Social Media Debacle. Note: The lady still hasn’t been fired […]

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